Chiropractor with illegal consumer contracts refused $4,000 refunds to two older Iowans following Cedar Rapids “Help Your Diabetes” seminar
DES MOINES – Two Texas chiropractors who operate a traveling diabetes management program seminar will cease conducting their sales seminars in Iowa, after one refused to issue refunds of approximately $4,000 to two older Iowans who requested them.
Through an agreement with Attorney General Tom Miller called an assurance of voluntary compliance, Dr. Jeffrey Murray Hockings, CEO, and Dr. Dean Elliot Draluck, president, of the Dallas-based “Help Your Diabetes” wellness program, have agreed not to conduct future diabetes management seminars in Iowa. The agreement also requires Hockings, of Colleyville, Texas, and Draluck, of Plano, Texas, to provide refunds to Iowans who request them.
In December, Hockings conducted a “Help Your Diabetes” seminar at a Cedar Rapids hotel, selling two to four month natural wellness program enrollments. Hockings charged from $4,000 to $7,000 for enrollments, which included dietary supplements, recipes, and follow-up phone and email support. He charged an additional $125 for a pre-enrollment consultation.
Hockings Refused to Grant Two Older Iowans Cancellations & Refunds
Two older Iowans who attended the seminar and paid approximately $4,000 apiece in enrollment fees, filed complaints with the Consumer Protection Division after Hockings refused to allow them to cancel and seek refunds. Contrary to Iowa law, Hockings informed both consumers through emails that the contracts they signed waived their rights to cancel or seek refunds.
In an email to a 74-year-old Iowa woman who sought a refund a day after she enrolled, Hockings wrote, “You signed an agreement stating you would not quit…this policy is in place to ensure patients who join our program stick with it, as that’s what’s best for you.”
In an email to an 86-year-old Iowa man who, several days after enrolling, tried to cancel and seek a refund based on medical advice from his personal physician, Hockings wrote, “You can’t cancel, regardless of what your ill-informed MD says.”
Miller: Agreements Violate Iowa Consumer Laws
Miller noted that the “Help Your Diabetes” program agreements violate the Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act by not informing consumers of their lawful right to cancel and by illegally forcing consumers to waive their rights to cancel.
“Without passing judgment on any health advice the chiropractor may have given to those who attended his diabetes program seminar, the enrollment agreements violate our state’s consumer laws by stripping people of their rights to cancel,” Miller said. “Iowa’s Door-to-Door Sales Act, which applies to a traveling seminar like this one, very clearly gives people certain legal protections that you just can’t force them to give up.”
California Board Previously Cited Hockings Over Refunds
In September, Hockings paid two $500 fines to the California Board of Chiropractic Examiners. The board issued two disciplinary citations for misleading advertising after Hockings failed to issue refunds to several consumers who requested them after attending his diabetes seminars in California in 2013. According to the complaints, Hockings “failed to reimburse them for services not rendered.”
Iowa Consumers Have Three Days to Cancel Sales at Temporary Locations
Under the Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act, consumers have the right to cancel most transactions of $25 or more within three business days at their home or workplace, and any temporary place other than the seller’s normal place of business, including a rented hotel, convention facility, warehouse or fairgrounds, and sales by people who approach consumers in public places.
The law applies to transactions that involve goods or services that are purchased, leased or rented primarily for personal, family of household purposes.
Consumers may cancel for any reason or no reason at all.
“The right to cancel in the Door-to-Door Sales Act protects you from high-pressure sales tactics at traveling seminars, where a seller may misrepresent things or leave out important information,” Miller said. “The law also protects you from high-pressure sales pitches by people who show up at your home.”
Under the law, the seller must tell consumers of their right to cancel and provide written notice. If the seller does not provide a written notice of the right to cancel in the manner that the law requires, consumers can cancel until three business days after receiving the notice. If a consumer properly cancels, the seller must provide a refund.
The right to cancel does not apply to sales conducted entirely by telephone or mail, requests for in-home repairs to personal property, and certain “emergency” purchases where a consumer waives the right to cancel in writing.
Be Wary of High-Pressure Seminars
Miller warns Iowans to be wary of seminars and sales meetings that offer free meals, gifts, or extraordinary claims that entice you to attend. Sellers often use high-pressure sales tactics to get you to purchase their products or services.
“Resist the high-pressure sales pitch to act now, get everything in writing, and take all the time you need to check on the product or services that someone is trying to sell you.”
File a Complaint
Consumers with questions or complaints about an Iowa Door-to-Door Sales Act issue can contact the Consumer Protection Division through the Attorney General's website, by email or by phone:
- Web: www.IowaAttorneyGeneral.gov
- Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Phone: 515-281-5926 (outside the Des Moines area, call toll-free: 888-777-4590)